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Sickle Cell Disease

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Painful events (sickle cell crises) in the hands or feet, belly, back, or chest are the most common symptom of sickle cell disease. This pain may last from hours to days. Most people with sickle cell disease also get anemia.

When a child is born with sickle cell disease, it isn't possible to predict which symptoms will appear, when they will start, or how bad they will be.

Symptoms related to chronic anemia

Most people who have sickle cell disease have at least mild symptoms of chronic anemia, which may include:

  • Weakness.
  • Tiredness (fatigue).
  • Pale appearance.
  • Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice).
  • Shortness of breath, especially when they are active.

Severe anemia may raise the chance of a person with sickle cell disease getting high blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension). This can be deadly.

Symptoms caused by sickle cell crisis

Painful sickle cell crisis symptoms are caused by blocked blood vessels in bones, organs, and other tissues. This can cause extreme pain for hours or days. These painful events can occur rarely to often. Sometimes home treatment can help the pain. And sometimes a hospital stay is needed.

Infants and young children may have episodes of extreme pain in the hands, the feet, or both (hand-foot syndrome).


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 17, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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